Winter Park may bring up thoughts of hitting the slopes on skis, a board, or a mountain bike, but that’s not all that this mountain paradise has to offer. Don’t forget about the proven classic that involves lacing up some shoes and walking out the door. There are many spectacular possibilities for hiking in Winter Park, and there are trails that will match the needs of everyone from families to seasoned outdoor adventurers.
- Distance: 5 miles
- Elevation Gain: 772 ft
This simple hike is over 6 miles if you decide go the whole way, and it connects Winter Park to the neighboring town of Fraser. It’s a relatively easy path to walk on because it has asphalt or crushed stone surfaces the whole way. But, don’t let the simplicity fool you, it’s a scenic trail that wanders through plenty of meadows with beautiful backgrounds.
- Distance: 0.7 miles
- Elevation Gain: 98 ft
This is a short hike that is less than a mile, but it’s a lovely little adventure if you’re not looking for anything too difficult. It spends most of the time meandering through pine and aspen forests, and it even allows for hikers to head up to the top of a waterfall.
- Distance: 5.8 miles
- Elevation Gain: 278 ft
Loops are a nice option because they allow you to avoid ever repeating the same scenery. This one is about five miles long, and it follows the St. Louis Creek. It’s an easy trail, and animals are often spotted because of the marshy vegetation growing along the water.
- Distance: 4.1 miles
- Elevation Gain: 406 ft
This is yet another four-mile loop, and it’s quite popular among groups who want to bring children and dogs along with them. It’s near Lake Granby, and this hike will take you around Monarch Lake and pass through the Indian Peaks Wilderness Boundary.
- Distance: 6.6 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,213 ft
This trail lumbers its way through a lodgepole pine forest. It offers plenty of creek views to hikers, and it even has some opportunities to play in the water.
- Distance: 7.3 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,102 ft
This is a slightly more challenging hike that goes for about 3.5 miles up to a nice little mountain lake. Also, there are quite a few small log bridges that traverse streams, so it really gives hikers the feeling of a true adventure!
- Distance: 8.2 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,113 ft
This hike traverses through a wide variety of different scenery and conditions. You’ll get views of the town of Tabernash, the Winter Park Ski Resort, and of course, Devil’s Thumb Lake. At the end, can relax at the base of Mount Neva while admiring the mountain water.
- Distance: 9.1 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 2,988 ft
This challenging trek will take you on a nice journey above timberline. It becomes slightly challenging at the top, but there isn’t any technical climbing involved, so anyone in good shape can handle it. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with views of the Gore Range, the Continental Divide, and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Tips for Hiking in Winter Park
SAFETY: Hiking is a fairly safe activity, especially compared to high-speed sports like skiing. However, it’s important to remember that the great outdoors always hold certain risks, and it’s best to be prepared. Always make sure you know where you’re going before you set out, and have plans that don’t rely on a smartphone battery to show your map. Also, don’t count on having cell reception everywhere in the mountains (this is both a blessing and a curse!), and tell someone what route you plan to take and when you expect to return. Knowing that someone is watching out for you will allow you to really relax and take in all that nature has to offer.
ALTITUDE: Whether you’re coming from sea level or elsewhere in Colorado, it takes time to adjust to the higher altitude. The different environment can cause numerous problems to anyone not used to it, and one of the most common issues is dehydration. When you head out on your hike, bring plenty of water and don’t hold back on drinking it. Also, don’t be shy with the sunscreen!
WEATHER: Another thing to remember is that weather changes extremely quickly at high altitude, so you should be prepared for various conditions, even on a short hike. The safest way to prepare is to bring plenty of layers that you can change into.
TRAILS: One last piece of advice is to follow the trails. Nature does its best to make this a challenge in some places, but this is very important for a few reasons. The first is that following a trail will prevent you from getting lost, and you’ll be able to get back in time for dinner! Another big reason is that it prevents damage being done to nature, and you can do your part to make sure Colorado remains beautiful for generations to come!